The mission of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners (ADFP) is:
- To heighten awareness of the benefits and the added value of divorce financial planning so that it becomes an integral part of the divorce process.
- To encourage knowledgeable and trustworthy financial professionals to enter the field.
- To continuously refine and maintain practice and professional standards of excellence and a strict code of ethics.
- To build professionalism.
- To unify the divorce financial planning profession.
To accomplish this mission, the ADFP will:
- Develop outreach programs to financial professionals, allied divorce professionals and the general public.
- Provide continuing professional education and training opportunities for divorce financial planning practitioners.
- Hold members to high professional and ethical protocols and standards.
- Promote communication, networking, and peer review.
- Market and promote divorce financial planning through the ADFP website, speaking opportunities to the public and divorce professionals, public relations, and other appropriate means.
- Establish and encourage membership participation in local chapters throughout the United States, Canada, and other countries.
- Participate in policy making regarding financial issues in divorce.
The Association of Divorce Financial Planners (ADFP) is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit professional association that is led exclusively by its democratically elected Board of Director members. It is not affiliated or competitive with any company, school, organization, or other entity offering financial divorce training, certification, or support services.
Criteria for membership in ADFP are rooted in its Mission Statement, and an internal accreditation process, not intended to compete with any existing credentialing process, has been established to help ensure high standards of practice among its practitioner members. The areas upon which this process is based are discussed below in this document.
There are two (2) classes of ADFP membership, Members and Associate Members. Eligibility and qualifications for membership and the manner of and admission into membership shall be prescribed by resolutions duly adopted by the Board of Directors of the ADFP. Continued membership is contingent upon being up-to-date on membership dues. Members have voting rights and Associate Members shall not have voting rights.
Members of the ADFP are not employees and function independently of the ADFP. It is the sole responsibility of the hiring party in a divorce engagement to use due diligence when hiring or engaging a member. ADFP accreditation is one of many criteria a hiring party may use in a hiring or engagement decision. A disclaimer to this effect, i.e. “Not an Endorsement,” will appear on the website (www.divorcefinancialplanner.org) and any other ADFP literature that refers to ADFP membership or accreditation.
Members are divorce financial planning practitioners, i.e., use the DFP process as defined by ADFP. They must charge a reasonable fee-for-service and cannot be compensated in other ways for providing divorce financial planning services.
Needs-based pro bono work may be an exception to this requirement, but a written needs-based policy must be in place and made available to ADFP upon request. DFP cannot be offered as a free service in exchange for or in anticipation of acquiring or being otherwise linked to a post-divorce money or investment management engagement or product sale, directly or indirectly through other professional relationships.
Individuals otherwise using the divorce financial planning process who do not charge a specific fee, in the appropriate market range and within geographical norms for his/her level of divorce financial planning expertise, are not eligible for either class of membership.
Refer to the Membership Handbook for Membership Criteria.
Associate Members have a professional interest in divorce financial planning. They are, for example, studying to become or contemplating becoming, divorce financial planning practitioners and are financial educators or otherwise provide adjunct, specialized, or supporting services to the divorce financial planning community.
The cost of Associate Membership is the same as that of practitioner Membership, and Associate Members are eligible for membership discounts for attending the annual conference and local chapter meetings and for participating in webinars or other ADFP programs. Names of Associate Members are also accessible to Members for professional networking or referral purposes, but they are not open to the public online at the website
An Associate Member who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to ADFP and has made significant contributions to the profession of divorce financial planning, who wishes to also serve in a leadership position, such as membership in the Board of Directors, Committee Chair or Chapter Chair, may petition the Board of Directors for a full Member exception to this policy.
Associate Members must clearly identify themselves as Associate Members in all written, electronic or verbal communications that make reference to their membership in ADFP and must not engage in any activity that might lead the public to conclude that they have been accredited by ADFP as practitioner Members. Any misrepresentations with respect to class of membership can result in immediate termination of Associate Member status and impact the possibility of future membership reinstatement.
Refer to the Membership Handbook for Associate Membership Criteria.
Membership Application and Additional Responsibilities
The membership application process is designed to help ensure that Members are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and experienced divorce financial planning practitioners. It is also designed to encourage applicants who do not meet ADFP Practice and Professional Standards to aspire and establish a path toward achieving them.
The process is outlined below:
- Individuals interested in applying for ADFP membership submit an ADFP Application Form and Dues Payment to the ADFP administrative virtual office.
- Forms and Instructions for this purpose can be found on the ADFP website at http://www.divorcefinancialplanner.org/join_adfp.php.
- Applications are reviewed initially by the Membership Chair (or Designated Board Director), who may (1) approve or reject the applicant; make further information requests; encourage further professional development by identifying apparent weaknesses in the application; make recommendations for strengthening such weaknesses; and offer applicants the opportunity to become Associate Members or (2) refer the application to the Board of Directors for independent review and decision-making.
- Applicants not accepted as Members can appeal the decision by submitting a letter and supporting documentation to the Board of Directors at its administrative virtual headquarters.
Additional membership responsibilities and commitments include:
- Provide divorce financial planning services on a fee-only (flat or hourly) basis
- Charge a reasonable and customary fee for such services
- Consistently use an engagement letter that clearly delineates the scope of a divorce financial planning engagement and includes a fee schedule
- Maintain Errors and Omissions insurance that covers divorce financial planning services
- If a registered representative with a broker/dealer or an IAR with a RIA, Member must provide evidence (such as a services contract) that divorce financial planning services are part of the business model or must have written approval for (1) divorce financial planning as an outside business activity (OBA) and (2) charging fees for such services
- Maintain one or more periodically monitored, and ADFP-approved (based on substantial initial and ongoing continuing education, compliance, and ethics requirements), professional designations or licenses
- Attest to a clean record of business integrity
- Disclose any and all past or current suspensions, revocations, or disciplinary actions related to any license or professional designation ever held
- Attest to good standing with all current monitoring and compliance entities
- Agree to notify the Board of Directors within 10 calendar days of any events or issues that could potentially affect eligibility for ADFP membership or membership status with any other entity
- Register individually as investment advisors with the appropriate regulatory authority or authorities, if required by state or federal law
- Submit an annual and timely Renewal Application, Dues Payment, and Attestation to Satisfaction of Continuing Education Requirements
Refer to the Membership Handbook for information on Members Criteria, Education, Designations, Experience, Ethics/Professional Responsibilities, Disclaimers, Continuing Education Requirements, Q&A
Agreement by Members to adhere to ADFP Professional Protocolsand Standards is a requirement of membership but should not be construed as a basis for any legal liability of the ADFP to third parties. It is strictly a condition for membership. The ADFP does not perform divorce financial planning services or take responsibility for divorce financial planning or other services offered by its individual members. Services provided by members are provided independently of the ADFP and are completely their responsibility. Implying otherwise is a serious offense and grounds for membership termination.
The ADFP is governed by, operated, managed and monitored on a daily basis by its own volunteer members in good standing, primarily its Members of the Board of Directors, committee members, Program leaders, and any professionals hired as administrative service providers, consultants, website developers, etc. The Executive Officers shall at all times be aware of all activities of the organization. Each person engaged in any activity involving the ADFP, direct or indirect, shall report to and be approved by, the Executive Officers of the ADFP and its Board of Directors.
Protocols and Standards of Divorce Financial Planning
Definition of Divorce Financial Planning (DFP)
Divorce Financial Planning is a process, not a product. It encompasses the time a divorce or separation is first contemplated through the time a final outcome that includes such post-divorce events as asset transfers and changes of beneficiaries is reached. During this time, financial issues associated with divorce are identified and analyzed.
Divorce financial planning provides insights into financial issues associated with divorce or separation, helping parties arrive at knowledge-based outcomes. It is informational in nature and should not be construed or relied upon as legal or tax advice. Individuals seeking legal or tax advice should solicit the counsel of competent legal or tax professionals knowledgeable about the divorce and tax laws in their own geographical areas.
Divorce financial planning is a fee-only process. It does not involve product sales or securities or insurance transactions. It focuses on a specific life transition and on financial issues associated with divorce in both short- and long-term contexts. It involves the gathering, summarizing, and analysis of current and historical data and may include economic forecasting/financial modeling. Long-term post-divorce financial planning is not part of the divorce financial planning process and requires a separate engagement.
Traditional financial planning can take place prior to or subsequent to divorce financial planning. If traditional financial planning and elements of divorce financial planning are practiced in conjunction with one another, the resulting process falls outside the definition of divorce financial planning and into the realm of traditional financial planning.
The DFP process may include, but is not limited to, some or all of the following steps:
- Establishing and defining the client-planner relationship,
- Establishing and defining planner-professional relationships,
- Gathering, organizing, summarizing, and analyzing financial data,
- Identifying and addressing immediate/short-term financial needs and paying abilities,
- Identifying and analyzing longer-term financial issues,
- Developing options, opinions, and recommendations,
- Assisting in the implementation of directly related post-divorce and/or post-separation financial outcomes.
A DFP engagement exists when a DFP performs any type of mutually agreed upon divorce financial planning service for a client or an allied professional. The universe of activities engaged in by a DFP practitioner is diverse.
DFP advice may be a communication that, based on its content, context, and presentation, would reasonably be viewed as a recommendation that the Client take or refrain from taking a particular course of action with respect to:
- The development or implementation of a financial plan (that may be in writing or not), or that may occur even if the material elements are not provided to a client simultaneously, are delivered over a period of time, or are delivered as part of distinct services.
A DFP planning engagement, however, must be defined in writing and set forth:
- Terms of the Engagement, including
- The scope of the Engagement and any limitations,
- The period(s) during which the services will be provided, and
- The client’s responsibilities, including identifying the client(s),
- The disclosure of conflict(s) of interest.
- A CFP® professional is responsible for implementing, monitoring, and updating the Financial Planning recommendation(s) unless specifically excluded from the Scope of Engagement.
Different Types of DFP Engagements:
- Working with one party: (advocate)
- Pro se litigant
- Litigant represented by attorney
- Consultant for attorney on an individual litigant’s case
- Affiliated professional in a Collaborative divorce
- Working as a neutral:
- Pro se couples
- Couples working with a mediator
- Financial neutral in a Collaborative divorce
DFP Duties when Working with Allied Professionals or Additional Persons
A DFP shall communicate in good faith and with transparency about their services and responsibilities relevant to the scope of their engagement. The DFP shall inform the client if the other provider did not perform services required or uphold respective responsibilities.
DFP may occur even if the material elements are not provided to a client simultaneously, are delivered over a period of time, or are delivered as part of distinct services. It is not necessary to provide a written report to engage in the DFP process. A DFP engagement exists when a DFP r performs any type of mutually agreed upon divorce financial planning service for a client or an allied professional.
The universe of activities engaged in by a DFP practitioner is diverse. Services that can be performed by a divorce financial planner may include, but are not limited to:
- Financial statement preparation and analysis (including cash flow analysis, analysis of financial position and budgeting),
- Assistance in identifying financial discovery needs,
- Assistance in the preparation and analysis of interrogatories,
- Assistance in preparing for depositions and court proceedings,
- Financial review of transcripts from depositions or court proceedings,
- Analysis of financial reports prepared by outside experts,
- Assistance in the preparation or analysis of applications for pendente lite awards and arguments opposing such applications,
- Analysis of current or projected needs and/or paying abilities,
- Child support calculations,
- Assist attorneys in the preparation of separation agreements, decrees, stipulations, and pre- and post-marital agreements at their request.
- Review of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), valuations and employee benefit documents,
- Tax impacting of retirement assets, potential property distributions, and alternative support scenarios.
- Analysis of financial and tax issues related to the marital residence, the filing of tax returns, and dispositions of property and division of property,
- Analysis of unrealized capital gains and losses,
- Review of tax returns to identify assets; sources of income; undisclosed, transferred, hidden or obligated assets; and/or carryover credits/refunds,
- Identify and analyze career assets, such as health, life, and disability insurance; retirement assets; stock options; restricted stock; assets associated with nonqualified plans; and other perquisites,
- Review and analysis of estate planning documents,
- Analysis and evaluation of marital lifestyle,
- Analysis of short- and long-term potential outcomes of alternative settlement proposals on net worth and cash flow,
- Analysis of long-term needs and paying abilities in different post-divorce or post-separation contexts,
- Identification and analysis of tax planning opportunities and potential pitfalls,
- Participation in strategic planning or settlement conferences,
- Testimony as an expert witness in court, and
- Assisting in post-divorce or post-separation transfers of assets; changes of beneficiaries, trustees, owners of wills in trusts, retirement plans, and life insurance policies; and execution of QDROs.
Refer to the Membership Handbook for information on the following DFP-related topics:
- Examples of Services the Fall Outside the Definition of the DFP Engagement
- DFP is NOT Forensic Accounting
- DFP in the Contents of Litigation, Mediation, and Interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce
For CFPs Engaged in DFP
CFPs who are engaged in DFP must abide by the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct ("the Code"). The following represents the ADFP's understanding and distillation of the Code specifically as it pertains to divorce financial planners. It is provided to ADFP members as a guide. To the extent that anything in this document is in conflict with the Code, the CFP Board's rulings, its interpretations or advisory opinions regarding the Code, the CFP Board’s authority shall take precedence over that of the ADFP.
Specifically, for CFPs who are engaged in DFP, it is a collaborative process that helps maximize a client’s potential for meeting life goals through financial advice that integrates relevant elements of the client’s personal and financial circumstances and is defined by the scope of engagement and the legal process. In determining whether financial advice rises to the level of financial planning, the following are the CFP’s factors:
- The number of relevant elements of the Client’s personal and financial circumstances that the Financial Advice may affect;
- The portion and amount of the Client’s Financial Assets that the Financial Advice may affect;
- The length of time the Client’s personal and financial circumstances may be affected by the Financial Advice;
- The effect on the Client’s overall exposure to risk if the Client implements the Financial Advice; and
- The barriers to modifying the actions taken to implement the Financial Advice.
The ADFP is governed by a Board of Directors. Each director shall be at least 18 years of age and shall be a member of the organization in good standing during his / her directorship. The Board of Directors shall consist of not less than three (3) and not more than twenty (20) individuals. At least one half of the board members shall be full time practicing practitioner Members. The composition of the board shall be diverse by geography, race, ethnicity, and gender. All officers of this organization, as well as Directors thereof, will be, a current member and in good standing (refer to ADFP By-Laws), to be eligible for nomination. The President Emeritus shall remain on the Board of Directors as a current member as long as remains in good standing.
The President, Immediate Past-President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer of this organization will constitute an "Executive Committee" of the Board of Directors, and may include up to two members of the Board of Directors appointed for a term of one year by the President. The Executive Committee shall have all of the powers and authority of the Board of Directors in the management of the property, business and affairs of this organization in the intervals between meetings of the Board of Directors, subject always to the direction and control of the Board of Directors.
The Board will have no less than two (2) meetings per calendar year, one of which may be held simultaneously, but separately, from the Annual Meeting of this organization. The duly elected Secretary will take minutes of such meeting and, in the absence of such Secretary; the Chairperson of said meeting will designate a Secretary, for the purpose of taking minutes of the meeting.
At each annual meeting, its purpose shall be the installing of newly elected Officers and Directors of the ADFP, and for the transaction of other such business as shall come before the meeting of the Members. In conjunction with the Annual Meeting and election of Officers and Directors, there may be a general meeting of all members of the organization who wish to attend, and an extended conference, for the purpose of presentation of lectures, workshops and other educational features. Any member of the organization may attend such membership meeting and conference.
Publicity, Marketing & Promotion
- Social media posting/tagging/linking
- PR for Members (kits, blogs, webinars)
Support & Development Groups
Website & Social Media Liaison
Protocols & Standards
- Develop a committee description and distribute to all Board members
- Each Director on the Board to chair a committee
- Develop goals for each year and subcommittees/help to accomplish
- Monitor progress of committees
- Report on goal progress for each meeting
- Continually develop new members/respond to volunteers as sent out by Administrator/Membership by:
- Immediately acknowledging and thanking them for his/her action to volunteer
- Invite him/her to join an in-progress committee, on-going issue (like writing/obtaining newsletter articles) or take on a new task that is starting
- If there is no actual need at the time, express that, and state when this might be open, and invite to volunteer for something else.
- Goal: response re: volunteering on the Committee level, not as additional duties of administrative assistant or Membership Chair
The ADFP may at its discretion and with approval by the Board, hire administrative services to assist the organization, the Board and its membership in a wide variety of tasks. The scope of tasks, cost, timeline and criteria for success shall be strictly identified, budgeted and monitored by the Executive Committee of the Board with regular reporting to the Board. The ADFP has no employees.
This 10-month course is designed for CFP® and CDFA professionals and financial advisors who wish to become more knowledgeable in the areas of divorce: analysis, planning and post-divorce carryover. In order to better serve DFP clients who are going through a divorce, practitioners must understand the legal, financial, psychological and personal decisions that their clients must make and the implications that these decisions have for the planning process and life’s transition.
- Understand the divorce processRecognize the factors that lead to costly divorces and options for resolving tough divorce-related financial issues
- Recall the essential financial information relative to a divorce process that needs to be gathered
- Understand the financial planning aspects of child support and custody
- Understand the financial planning aspects of alimony
- Understand the financial planning aspects of property division, including family businesses
- Understand the financial planning aspects of debt relating to divorce
- Understand the financial planning aspects of retirement benefits relating to divorce
- Recognize the tax consequences and planning considerations of divorce
- Understand the legal rights issues that have an impact on financial planning considerations
- Understand the working relationships that occur between advisors, lawyers, and/or mediators
The ADFP has no paid consultants or persons of counsel working for or with the organization.
- Compensation Determination Process
- Conflicts of Interest and Annual Sign-off
- Document Retention Policy
- IRS EIN and 501(c)6 Tax-exempt Letter
- Sales Exempt Certificate
- Membership Application
- Membership Handbook
- NYS Certificate of Incorporation
- Organization Chart
- Whistleblower policy
- Organization Logo
- Membership Certificate
Other (Current year):
- Board of Directors and Executive Officers
- Board/Committee Meeting Minutes
- Insurance Policies
- Tax Returns
- Financial Statements and Annual Budget